Wednesday, August 19, 2009

End of the Line?

In a recent report, The Globe and Mail journalist, Michael Valpy, dwelt at length on the vicissitudes of growing old. My email to him:

I trust the second paragraph of your August 8 item was tongue-in-cheek. As a 76-year-old, I have experienced none of the sensations you mentioned. If HiNi should take me (not for a minute do I believe there will be a pandemic), it would only move up the date for the next stage of my growth.

As for being the butt of jokes, should we really care what a forty-year old thinks about anything?

Idea number One: Films should be reviewed by someone under fifty and someone over fifty. It adds a great deal to our lives to have a perspective of fifty or more years. People of age enjoy a bigger picture of life.

We have seen fashions come and go, and come and go again. We can sit back and laugh at the "latest" fad, knowing it is just another re-hash of a re-hash. But to youngsters, it's all new. They lack perspective.

Idea Number Two: Every time a "new" fashion emerges from unimaginative designers, newspapers should show where that new-old idea came from. But that might be against the newspaper's financial interest.

Idea Number Three: Youngsters to read and study until about age forty, forty-five. Then think about what they have read for ten years or so. In their fifties, they may deign to express an opinion, but only tentatively. Serious communication must await sixty, more or less. (Some exceptions permitted.)

If a woman is worried about "crepey cleavage and saggy booty," it's only because she worried about similar non-essentials when she was young. It's a question of confidence.

Idea Number Four: Run out of town those "anti-aging" establishments. They are anti-reality, anti-life, preying on one's insecurity.

Idea Number Five: The size of an issue of a newspaper be determined by the amount of real news, not by the amount of created stories or advertising sold.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crumbling Buildings

The thirty-year-old Pompidou Centre in Paris is in need of major repairs. Complained one French politician: "We have in Paris structures left by the Romans two thousand years ago, yet these new buildings are crumbling."

Not just in France. In Montreal recently, a slab of concrete fell 17 storeys from a Marriott Residence Inn killing a woman dining in the restaurant below. Pieces of that city's Olympic white elephant regularly scale off, endangering passers-by.

None of this should be news. The renown architect, Anthony Adamson, years ago warned of our construction practices. Lintels, and other pieces of seemingly well-attached materials, he observed, are held in place by small metal clips. In time, these will rust, and danger will follow. Other architects confirm this opinion.

And in Toronto. In 2007, a piece of the marble cladding came unstuck and fell off the 30-year-old CIBC Building on the corner of Bay and King Streets. The architect did not allow for Toronto's weather conditions. The 45,000 slabs of Carrara marble are to be replaced at a cost of $100 million.

This month, two concrete slabs fell from the office building at 240 Duncan Mills Road.

In St. James Town, the concrete pieces of a railing between two buildings facing 325 Bleecker Street are deteriorating. One has already fallen off. The rusted metal clips are there to be seen. And at the residential building of 325, the concrete canopy over the front entrance is in need of support.

The Canadian Ethos

In early August, the Toronto Star featured a letter whose writer bemoaned his feeling of exclusion from "the Canadian ethos" due to the word God in our national anthem. A follow-up letter from a sympathetic reader was also printed. But no letters such as mine:

Re Canada should become religion neutral (August 6):

I can understand atheist Brian Stewart's feeling of exclusion from "the Canadian ethos" by the words of our anthem "God keep our land glorious and free." I, as an anarchist, also feel left out of that same ethos by the Charter of Rights that speaks of "the rule of law."

The phrase is there because the Charter was written by lawyers. Had it been written by plumbers, it would have read "the rule of plumbing." Frankly, it would not have made any difference to the average Canadian.

My advice to Mr. Stewart is to keep a stiff upper lip, as I do, while we endure the oppression of democracy.